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Marina Akamatsu, 21 – FUNDED

“Learning to surround myself with supportive individuals and bright minds is one of my most powerful tools as a woman in this field,” says Marina Akamatsu, who is an emerging talent in the music industry. This Paliwal Club of 100 Music Scholar is currently attending Florida State University for her bachelor’s degree in viola performance while also studying orchestral conducting.

What is your professional dream?

I aim to become an orchestral conductor, working with symphony orchestras and pushing the boundaries of the symphonic setting.

What does being in the Paliwal Club of 100 mean to you? 

This grant means that I am able to further my education and pursuit of artistry — without it, I would not have the financial means to attend workshops that are vital to my development as a musician. It’s also an honor because this program and group of remarkable young women gives me the hope and energy necessary to keep pursuing my own dreams.

Women are underrepresented in the S.T.E.A.M. (science, tech, arts or math) fields and music industry. How can we change this? 

I believe this issue can be partially solved with how we raise, educate, and nurture our children. By providing children with examples of women role models in a variety of careers — without separating them into a sub-category of professionals — we are able to raise a younger generation with a normalization of women in STEAM and the music industry.

But we cannot entirely rely on younger generations to create change; we must take action now to demand equality. Organizations such as 1DF take these important steps to equalize women in their careers.

What are some of the challenges you have faced along the way?

Growing up and studying music without role models of women conductors was discouraging — even on a subconscious level. Only after seeing a recent rise of women conductors in major symphonies and media was I able to recognize my potential for the career.

Now, as a conductor, I have met countless musicians who are outspoken in their support of women conductors. But, there are often just as many who express a polar opposite sentiment and actively impede our progress to the podium.

How will this grant from the 1,000 Dreams Fund help you reach your goals?

This grant is instrumental in funding my participation at the Chicago Conducting Masterclass & Workshop Series, which gives conductors the technical, professional, and musical skills they need to be the best version of themselves on the podium. Without this grant, I would not have been able to attend and further my musicianship.